Matt Zenovich has taken the biggest win of his young career with his first victory in a UCI stage race event this week. The 23 year old claimed top honours in stage 2 of the International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, winning a two-up sprint ahead of Mohammad Rajablou.
Form has not been something that Matt Zenovich has had to struggle for in recent times. After enjoying stage success at the Tour of Poyang Lake, Matt and his St George Continental Cycling Team headed to the International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, a four-day UCI 2.2 stage race featuring the likes of former Ardennes Classics winner Davide Rebellin.
After 46 year old Rebellin took the opening stage it was Matt’s turn to take centre stage in the 180km from Glenmore to Banyuwangi. The stage was not short on tests with a tough start giving way to a flatter mid section and then a long climb of around 18km in length. “The stage was the longest of the tour at 180km so for me it’s a good one as I thrive when everyone else’s legs get tired,” Matt told RoadCycling. “A break went up the road at km 0 I had a look and nobody from our team were there so I jumped across.”
Matt already has a strong reputation when it comes to breakaway racing, as he’s shown domestically at races like the SBS Tour of Southland. It wasn’t hard to imagine then that he’d find the scenario to his liking, in all but one aspect. “The break worked together fairly well except me. I’ve got a rather average head cold so I’m trying to take it as easy as possible which meant only rolling when the pressure wasn’t on.”
At the top of the KOM of the day Zenovich was feeling relatively good all things considered and he was buoyed by the condition of those around him. “The KOM was at 120km and was a steady climb and I got over it fairly fresh. Looking around it seemed the other riders in the group were toast. The heat and time spent in a break had got to them. I mean it is 40 degrees here.”
The long downhill run towards the finish line proved too enticing for attacks and it was from here that the stage victory began to be decided. “A rider from Pishgaman attacked and took a Malaysian from Sapura with him, this by the way was on a downhill which goes against everything you’d ever get taught about attacking,” Matt told us. “I took a gamble and rode across to it, and fair enough it worked out, the three of us rolled hard for 10km then smooth and fast for the final 30km.”
“We lost the Malaysian rider [Fitri Saharil of Team Sapura Cycling] with 2km to go and the Iranian rider started to sit on; which always seems to happen to me. I led the sprint out from 1km to go always watching and keeping him in check then with 300m to go I just thought I’ve gotta go I know I can do this. With 100m to go I havd about 10 bike lengths so I threw the arms up in the air in excitement and rode across the line claiming my first UCI win!”
“For me that’s 6 podiums in 11 days and 4 wins in 11 days I’m really happy with my form and the results.”
Congratulations to Matt on a brilliantly taken first UCI win. Matt’s due to continue racing in the International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen which finishes today, before heading over to the Tour of Taihu Lake